Parents seem to fear a fussy baby almost more than any other part of parenting. And baby boot camp begins the moment you hold your little one in your arms for the first time. Babies cry because they don’t yet talk—it’s your job to learn does that crying mean “I’m uncomfortable” or “I need a change” or “I need to be held.” Decoding babies’ cries is step one in becoming an expert in soothing baby.
As the parent, you’ve got the advantage. Your baby loves to be with you, and she or he wants your help navigating this new world. Even during pregnancy babies are comforted by the sounds of their parents talking. They know mom’s heartbeat and will quickly get to know dad’s.
There are many reasons babies cry—and usually it’s to express a need. Babies rarely cry when they’re sick—they tend to withdraw and be quieter. See baby’s healthcare provider if baby’s crying is prolonged and if baby has been vomiting, has diarrhea, is refusing to eat or is running a fever.
When you’re stressed, it’s very difficult to calm a fussy baby. You need to calm yourself first! This means taking a break and letting someone else care for baby. If you’re alone, this means putting baby safely in the crib and going into another room where you can still hear or see baby while you take a break. Some states even have parent hotlines if you need a break but have no one to call.
By the time your baby is born, hopefully you will have been educated about the dangers of shaking a baby. It is never OK to shake an infant. Even one episode of brief shaking can lead to permanent changes in the baby’s delicate brain. Situations that lead to a parent or other caregiver shaking a baby are a crying infant combined with a caregiver who is feeling very stressed and angry about the crying. If you ever feel that you are in such a situation, place your baby in a safe position on his or her back in the crib, remove yourself from the baby’s room and call for help (a parent hotline or a friend who can help you).
Your newborn doesn’t have the muscle strength to hold or move his or her head, baby depends on you to position her or his head so that the airway is always clear. This is important when you’re putting baby to sleep on its back in a crib, and when you’re holding baby. To safely position baby so that the chin doesn’t press down on the chest:
Call one of these hotlines when you just need someone to talk to or a break from your crying baby:
Learn about: Moro Reflex
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